Jira vs GitLab – Which Is Better?

Managing smaller teams has never been too difficult. But making a step to manage mid-sized or large-sized teams can be challenging at times.

Missing out on important information, not having the team optimized to be fully efficient, and not meeting deadlines are just some of the downsides of lousy project and team management.

That’s why tools such as Jira and GitLab are helpful. Another set of eyes that can’t miss anything is exactly what you might need, and these tools very rarely make a mistake, unlike humans.

Luckily, we have these tools available for us, and now the only choice you have to make is the choice between some of the best tools, such as Jira and GitLab.

If you’re in a dilemma or you’re trying to learn more about each option to make the right choice, this is the article for you, as that’s what you’ll learn below!

What is Jira?

Jira is a project and team managing tool that helps companies and teams develop products or provide services without any bottlenecks in their workflow.

This tool offers agile project management, as well as bug and issue tracking to ensure each team member is on the same page to produce great results without any issues in the workflow.

Check out some of the best open-source alternatives to Jira here.

What is GitLab?

GitLab is a web-based platform, so you can access it through your browser, allowing project management in repository-style.

GitLab is good at tracking workflow issues and bottlenecks in the pipelines along with team and project management.

GitLab can provide software-like features that can match and even improve management capabilities suitable for larger teams and enterprises in one application.

I should also mention that GitLab is highly compatible with third-party integrations that customize and improve the tool’s abilities.

How to Get Started

Jira

Getting started with Jira is pretty simple, which is one reason this is one of the most popular management tools on the market.

You can acquire Jira from the official website and test it using the free trial or by requesting the demo version.

In Jira, all you have to do to get started is create a project, choose a template for it, set up your columns, create an issue, invite your team, and keep moving your work through the tool.

As you start moving work through Jira, you’ll start noticing the help and benefits from Jira’s features as the workload increases.

GitLab

What’s excellent about GitLab is that you can try it for free by visiting the official GitLab website and acquiring the free version that lasts for 30 days.

The only thing you will have to choose is if you would like a self-managed or cloud-hosted version.

From there, the process is very straightforward. You start by setting up the GitLab interface, creating a new project, and adding your team and work into the project.

As soon as you start getting workflow going inside the project, you can try out features and get familiar with GitLab’s possibilities.

Verdict

Both Jira and GitLab are equally easy to get started with since they offer a trial and the setup process is pretty straightforward, even if you don’t have any experience using such tools.

Therefore, it is a tie between these two options.

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License

Jira

Jira is based on a proprietary license which means that it’s built on a closed-source code that is only available for use by Jira members.

Even though Jira isn’t free, it is free to use for non-profit companies and organizations. While closed-source code has its downsides, it also has excellent upsides, which should be considered.

GitLab

GitLab can be a bit limiting in some aspects, but since Jira isn’t built on an open-source code either, there’s very little difference in the limitations between these two tools.

Verdict

Jira and GitLab are both tools licensed on the closed-source code, which is a bit limiting in some aspects and reliable and stable in many other aspects.

So this is tie.

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Integration

Jira

Jira helps users integrate third-party options through plugin integrations so the majority of the most common tools and software can be integrated to improve the workflow.

With access to the Marketplace full of apps you can integrate, you will never have to worry about integrating Jira with other apps you use for work, such as Slack, Zoom, or others.

GitLab

GitLab can easily integrate third-party tools and apps. GitLab can even integrate with Jira so that you can browse all your projects directly from GitLab’s repository.

What’s excellent about GitLab is that it integrates directly through the code so integrations can feel like native apps in the tool.

On top of that, GitLab features code quality and code security checks for each integration, so you don’t compromise your projects.

Verdict

Both GitLab and Jira offer integrations, and while they do it differently, GitLab has a better way of integrating third-party apps.

It’s not all about integrating the apps or tools, but also what matters is the interaction between the project management tool and the integration.

Therefore, GitLab wins this category by an inch.

Development and Usage

Jira

Jira and GitLab are built differently. Jira is based on a JAVA programming language that was used to build the whole platform.

With that being said, Jira was built to be a testing tool and the managing tool that helps agile teams track bugs, issues, and even threats inside one tool.

Developing software while managing the whole project is made simple.

GitLab

GitLab is built on a Ruby programming language, and it’s built in a way that GitLab can be a tool used for application version control, bug tracking, code review, and project management.

What’s excellent about GitLab is that it’s a lot more functional when it comes to connectivity as it can handle up to 25,000 users on one server.

Verdict

While both GitLab and Jira are built differently, they also function differently, and yet they have some of the most important features in common.

While Jira is better for mid-sized teams who need specific things to test and track while developing code, GitLab is ideal for the largest teams out there who need features to improve their workflow.

Therefore, these two are pretty close when comparing the features they have in common, and regardless of their differences, this category is a tie.

Generality and Group Issue Board

Jira

Jira is based on multiple dashboards that include all features in the interface that’s easy to get around. Through these dashboards, you find your way through the platform and make your way to the features you want to use.

Most dashboards inside of Jira are based on Kanboard and Scrum, which are very well known and ensure that the learning process is very minimal.

The group issue board is a must-have feature that can improve the way teams see issues at a group level. Unfortunately, Jira doesn’t feature this option.

GitLab

GitLab is very versatile when it comes down to generality as it can be used via the graphical user interface and can be used through a common line interface.

You can set up GitLab according to one generality, and yet you can switch to the other generality as you progress. This is great for everyone who wants versatility and the ability to transition between the interface and the command line for better control.

Also, GitLab has a group issue board that lists all issues and bug tracking at the group level, making it easier for teams to assess and take action.

Verdict

While both tools provide great generality, GitLab is a bit more efficient as it features two ways you can use it in two different ways. Also, GitLab provides a group issue board that is just lacking in Jira.

I consider this an important feature teams might need to improve their workflow and assess their projects. Therefore, GitLab wins this category.

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Built-In Features

Jira

Other than 2 board types (Kanban and Scrum), Jira is full of features that help users find their way around the platform and take full advantage of the tools available.

On top of the boards, Jira features roadmaps that can help with project management, and in combination with integrated agile reporting types, seeing code and deployment status is guaranteed in Jira.

I like the most about Jira because it doesn’t only feature development statuses, yet it adds context to them, so you’re up to date and can fully understand them.

End-to-end DevOps visibility is another feature that is an excellent addon for everyone who likes learning information visually.

What’s also great about Jira is that its features are made to function well with each other to provide an automated experience that improves workflow.

GitLab

GitLab is full of integrated features that help users manage, plan, create, configure, and monitor projects and development.

Subgroups and audit events are very useful at managing, while issue tracking in combination with description templates and task lists are helpful for planning.

For creation, GitLab features powerful branching, commit graphs, and even the ability to search files with an in-built file finder. Squashing and merging are very simple too.

Verdict

Both Jira and GitLab are full of features that help improve the workflow, managing, planning, and taking action to help teams of all sizes.

GitLab is a bit more versatile and can be used for a couple of different purposes and that’s why it has more in-built features.

Even though it would’ve been a tie otherwise, these additional features help GitLab win this category.

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Templates

Jira

Jira comes with 33 pre-built templates in almost all categories you can think of. From software development and service management all the way to finance, design, and even sales.

These templates help you start a new project without having to start from scratch. In addition, each template is highly adjustable, so it’s a great starting point even if you’re looking forward to fully customizing it to your needs.

Since these templates are custom-built for a particular purpose, you won’t have to make as many changes as you would have to do if you started a project from scratch.

Therefore, Jira helps speed up the process and yet provides custom templates to match everyone’s needs.

GitLab

When creating a new project, you can choose between creating a project from scratch, using one of the pre-built GitLab templates, or even importing a project from sources such as Gitea or Fogbugz.

Predefined templates help users kickstart their projects. Each GitLab template comes with a pre-configured example code. With this code, you can take it further from there, and all you have to do is build your project onto the existing example code.

GitLab also helps you define a custom project template by assigning it to a group. Then, each group can have a child project as a template that you can use repeatedly.

Verdict

Both Jira and GitLab have templates that are useful in starting a project quickly and managing it in a better way. With that being said, they’re one of the most often used features in both tools.

Even though their templates are built differently, both tools provide perfect templates as a starting point, so this category is a tie.

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Milestones

Jira

Jira doesn’t have an integrated and simple milestones feature, unlike GitLab, but it can still help you keep track of your milestones in two ways.

You can either create a very detailed issue where the goal will be to resolve the issue to progress and move forward with the project.

The other way is to use the due date schedule that is integrated into Jira. These two might not be the best options or great milestone substitutes, but thanks to them, you can still track your progress one way or another.

GitLab

GitLab makes it super easy to track milestones with the integrated milestones tracking feature. You can track milestones at the project level and also the group level.

What’s also great about GitLab’s milestones is that it displays issues currently in progress so you can predict how soon you will complete your miles.

You can have as many miles as you wish, and you can quickly sort through them via open, closed, and all tabs.

Verdict

Even though Jira doesn’t feature a clear milestone feature inside the tool, tracking progress, goals, and issues is still possible through other included features.

They might not be ideal, but they’re good enough for most teams. On the other hand, GitLab has a straightforward yet sophisticated milestones section inside the tool, so GitLab wins this category.

Reports

Jira

Jira offers real-time, out-of-the-box reporting that’s combined with actionable information.

These reports can help you understand how a team performs as a whole, how long it takes to finish projects, how well your team collaborates, and much more information.

What’s great about Jira is that they took the time to introduce various graphs and diagrams to display these reports. This way, you’ll have all the data you need visually displayed in front of you when you need it.

GitLab

On the other hand, GitLab, unfortunately, didn’t put much effort into providing real-time reports for projects inside the tool.

As a tool, GitLab features the unit test reports and metrics reports, but it doesn’t feature reports driven by the team’s data and the project’s flow.

Verdict

Jira took time to introduce a feature that is probably as important as some other features because it allows teams to learn, regroup, and reorganize to be more efficient and productive across their projects.

GitLab is just missing this feature which is one of the reasons why Jira wins this category.

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Ease of Use

Jira

Jira is straightforward to use because it is a web-based platform, so you won’t even have to download it or install anything, yet everything you might need is available inside the dashboard.

Jira’s dashboard is easy to use and it is effortless to get around the tool in only a couple of clicks.

Combined with roadmaps and boards, you won’t only find your way around Jira easily, but you will also manage your projects and stay up to date at all times.

GitLab

GitLab can be used in two different ways, which improves versatility. First, you can take full advantage of GitLab through the command-line interface if you are skilled enough.

If not, there’s nothing to worry about because GitLab also has an excellent interface if you decide to use the well-designed interface.

Getting around GitLab is very simple, and there’s no learning curve associated with the interface. The command-line interface might be challenging to understand for some users, but GitLab avoided the issues by providing two ways of using the tool.

Verdict

Both Jira and GitLab have very straightforward interfaces which are easy to get to know and easy to use so this category is a tie.

GitLab vs Jira – Pricing

Jira

Even before purchasing the Jira, keep in mind that Jira provides a 7-day free trial where you can thoroughly test the tool.

After the trial ends, you will be able to choose one of the pricing plans. Jira’s pricing plans are split into cloud and data center hosting.

Cloud Jira plans:

  • Up to 10 users – ideal for small teams
  • Up to 20,000 users – ideal for growing teams
  • Up to 20,000 users (with more features) – ideal for organizations
  • Up to 20,000 users (with unlimited features) – ideal for enterprises and government

Pricing for these plans is not published so you will have to get in touch with Jira support for a quote. However, everything you get inside these plans is published, so you can choose a plan that fits your needs the most.

Data center Jira plans:

  • Up to 500 users – $42,000 per year
  • Up to 1,000 users – $72,000 per year
  • Up to 5,000 users – $255,000 per year
  • Up to 10,000 users – $480,000 per year
  • Up to 25,000 users – $615,000 per year
  • Up to 50,000 users – $840,000 per year
  • 50,000+ users – $885,000 per year

GitLab

GitLab has a 30-day free trial that lets you entirely set up your projects and use all features to truly experience the power of GitLab.

After that, if you wish to upgrade, you can choose one of three pricing plans:

  • Free – free for individual users
  • Premium – $19/per user/month – ideal for teams of all sizes
  • Ultimate – $99/per user/month – ideal for enterprises, organizations, and government

Similarities

  • Great bug reporting and bug monitoring
  • Ability to help individuals, teams of any size, enterprises, organizations, and even government
  • Easy to use interface
  • Pre-built project templates
  • Great integrations

Differences

  • They’re developed differently
  • Different compatibility
  • Both tools integrate differently with third-party integrations
  • Gitlab can be used for many different purposes (more expansive range of use)
  • Both tools function differently yet they share some of the important features

Jira vs GitLab – Pros and Cons

Jira Pros

  • Affordable solution that fits all teams, companies, and organizations
  • Free trial
  • Valuable features
  • Very easy to use
  • Great customer service

Jira Cons

  • Comments inside Jira are at the very bottom, which can be hard to find
  • Mobile app could be improved

GitLab Pros

  • Great project management
  • Built-in templates
  • Continuous integration
  • The ability to build and edit pipelines in the tool
  • Simple pricing plans

GitLab Cons

  • The interface often gets upgraded, which can confuse users
  • Lack of reports

Jira vs GitLab – Which is Better?

Jira and GitLab are two similar tools, but they’re built differently, they function differently, and they operate differently.

However, both tools provide great project management, project tracking, and tracking for code development.

The choice will most likely come down to the tiny features that might make a huge difference for you or your team. Also, the price can play a role in the decision too.

Therefore, take your time to carefully examine the difference and similarities of both tools before making your choice.

Even though GitLab is the winning tool in this review, Jira had some pretty great points and lots of ties across various categories so it’s definitely a choice to consider.

Keep in mind that both tools provide a free trial version, so you can truly test out each tool if you have enough time!

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.